The MBTA released its plan for travel alternatives while the entire Orange Line and part of the Green Line are shut down later this month and into September.
The plan's release came Friday, a week before the unprecedented Orange Line shutdown was set to begin. The MBTA released "A Rider's Guide to Planning Ahead" with details on how to get around while train service is impacted. (Read it below.)
"During the Orange Line shutdown, the MBTA encourages those who can work from home to do so and for the public that needs to travel, to consider alternative travel options," the guide reads.
Alternative ways to get around for the month that the Orange Line is shut down, from Aug. 19 through Sept. 18, include taking a shuttle bus, Commuter Rail or bicycle — the city of Boston on Friday announced that it would be offering free 30-day passes for the area's Bluebike program during the shutdown.
State transportation officials are expected to address the new plan and take questions on Monday, according to a news release. Officials have said the shutdowns will have an impact on traffic and congestion throughout downtown Boston, which is why they’re encouraging riders to take commuter trains wherever possible.
Shuttle buses are set to replace Orange Line service from Oak Grove to State Street and South Station to Forest Hills. Shuttle buses will also be available on the Green Line from Union Square to Government Center.
Orange Line Travel Alternatives
The MBTA released these detailed options for people who take the Orange Line during the shutdown:
Enhanced Commuter Rail Options
• Riders commuting downtown are encouraged to use the
• Riders can simply show their CharlieCard or CharlieTicket
to conductors to ride the Commuter Rail in Zones 1A, 1,
and 2 on ALL Commuter Rail lines at no charge.
• Green Line E Branch
Shuttles (all shuttles are accessible)
• Free shuttle buses between Oak Grove and Haymarket,
• Free shuttle buses between Forest Hills and Back Bay,
• Accessible vans are also available upon request
• Due to the free shuttle bus service, RIDE trips that begin
and end within ¾ mile of the Orange Line will be free for
RIDE users during the 30-day shutdown.
Alternative Bus Routes to Orange Line
• Silver Line 4 and Silver Line 5 - including added T bus
service to increase frequency and rider capacity
• Route 39 bus, servicing Forest Hills – Back Bay Station
• CT2 bus, servicing Sullivan Square – Ruggles Station
• Route 92 and Route 93, servicing Sullivan Square –
• Route 43, servicing Ruggles – Park St.
• Bicycle sharing system Bluebikes offers bike shares with
stations located throughout the Boston metropolitan area
• Note: the City of Boston will offer free 30 Day Bluebikes
passes to assist with alternative travel during this time
• To find the nearest bike station, use Bluebikes’ “Find a
Bike” System Map Tool: https://member.bluebikes.com/map/
MBTA’s Trip Planner Tool
• For help with personal travel and identifying the best route
from their specific location, riders can access the MBTA’s
online Trip Planner tool: MBTA.com/trip-planner
At an MBTA Safety Committee meeting Thursday, MBTA Deputy General Manager Jeff Gonneville admitted the "micro details" of specific turns and stops on the shuttle routes were still being worked out, but the agency did test runs that day to try to hammer out the specifics on some of those routes.
"We are still continuing to work through a bit of the granular details," Gonneville said. "We’ve worked very closely with the municipalities, the City of Boston, very closely with the City of Boston and MassDOT as well, to think through and even doing some modeling of where we think the routing and where there will be congestion."
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu has pushed for free fares during the shut down. While the MBTA hasn’t committed to that, it has said that if you do take Commuter Rail, you can ride for free from Zone 2 in by showing your Charlie Card.
The unlimited free 45-minute Bluebike rides will be available to anyone, the city said. Riders will be able to sign up for a pass at bluebikes.org/join or on the app. To keep riders safe, Boston will also create pop-up bike lanes demarcated by barrels on parts of Columbus Avenue, Stuart Street and Boylston Street.
"Expanding access to bicycles is just one way the City is working to provide alternate routes of travel during this unprecedented shutdown," Wu said in a statement, citing ongoing work optimizing bus routes and signage about the shutdown.
Friday morning, MBTA riders were waiting for more answers about what their commute will look like once the shutdown gets underway.
“Where’s the empathy, where’s the consideration for the everyday worker?" said Kevin Wilson, who rides the Orange Line to work, ahead of the plan's release. "Please help us out. We’re just trying to get to work to feed our families."